We are making a catalytic impact on the issue of transfer credits by enabling students who transfer between City University of New York (CUNY) colleges, which well over two-thirds of New York City public school students attend, to count their previously earned credits toward degree requirements at their new institution. Since we spotlighted this issue, 5 other NYC based foundations as well 3 major national foundations (Susan and Michael Dell, ECMC and Ascendium) have supported major expansions of this work in New York and across the Country.
Over a third of college students transfer at least once yet, according to a 2018 Government Accountability Office report, approximately 43% of credits earned at a previously attended institution are lost when students transfer, making transfer students far less likely to graduate. This disproportionately affects low-income students because lost credits often result in their running out of financial aid before they have enough credits in a major study area to graduate—federal (Pell) and New York State (TAP) grants stop after a certain number of years and require that a student make a particular amount of progress towards a degree each year. So, if a student does not receive full credit for two years of college upon transfer, he/she has, in effect, “wasted” essential federal and state financial aid and is likely to run out of aid before reaching graduation. Our support has led to:
In 2022 we invested in a 3-year plan aimed at expanding the project scope and Transfer Explorer to include systems beyond CUNY, facilitating a transfer community of practice, and incorporating business intelligence into the site such that users are presented with analysis, options, and guidance tailored to a student’s unique circumstances.
In 2022, Ithaka S+R released a study outlining the impact of the project: Archiving Degree Audit Data to Measure and Reduce Lost Transfer Credit, and Grantmakers for Education selected it from among 138 submissions for its national conference. In 2023, Christopher Vickery, professor emeritus of computer science at Queens College, wrote in Inside Higher Ed about the power of Heckscher-funded Transfer Explorer (“T-Rex”).
In 2023, we expanded our transfer work to the SUNY system. We supported the development of a pipeline from Nassau Community College and Suffolk County Community College to Farmingdale State College that provides an accessible pathway to community college students seeking to pursue a bachelor’s degree. As part of the program, Farmingdale faculty will teach courses on the campuses of these community colleges.